I went ice skating on Saturday! With people I barely know, for added adventurousness!
Well, it was more of a shuffle than a skate, but not bad, considering I’ve only skated three times before:
- The first time was at primary school, when a company came in one weekend and laid down big slabs of weird Teflon-type stuff that fitted together like a jigsaw, and that you could skate on. Kinda. It was a huuuuge deal – I remember everyone talking about it for weeks before it happened, and having to sign up for a specific time and skate size well in advance. I also remember being part of a pack of kids careening around the tiny school gym, barely in control (none of us wearing gloves or helmets, of course) having a whale of a time during our half-hour slot.
- The second time was when I was about 14 and we went on an uncharacteristically awesome school trip to the Doncaster Dome, over an hour away (our closest ice rink). We spent the morning in the wave pool and on the water slides, and the afternoon skating around the dual level rink: around the top part, down the slope, around the bottom part, and up the other slope, a set-up my new Canadian friends described as “crazy” when I told them about it. I had to stop early because a smaller kid cut me off just as I was coming off the downwards slope and, not wanting to hit her but not knowing how to stop, I grabbed hold of the side with one hand to stop myself, swung around in an arc, and slammed right into the hoardings, knees first. Someone else (not from my school) fell over and had her hand run over by a skate – I didn’t see it, but some of the kids from my school did, and they told us all about it. No-one was wearing gloves or a helmet, of course.
- The third time was on New Years Eve a couple of years ago, when we were staying with Mr E Man’s sister and her family up near Kamloops, BC. Someone had created a community rink by flooding the tennis courts using a hose pipe, so after dinner we borrowed skates and hockey sticks from a neighbour and went and shot pucks at the only kid in the village who had a full set of goalie gear. I was using hockey skates, rather than the figure skating kind I’d used before, which were also a size too small; add in the choppy ice and the fact that there was nothing to hold onto other than my brother-in-law, and I took the skates off and was running around playing hockey in my hiking boots within ten minutes (yes, the ice was choppy and rough enough that you could run around in hiking boots while pleasantly drunk and not fall over. Much). I wore gloves that time (it was soooooo cold), but no helmet, of course – just a toque.
I recounted this history to the people at Friday night’s party who were proposing the outing, and they reassured me that none of them had skated for years. I found out the next day that for two of them this statement came with the caveats “not since high school, when I played lots of hockey”, and “not on ice, although I’m a roller derby referee so I’m on roller skates all the time” (I’ve roller skated maybe twice as an adult), but it was really fun to do something so different, and everyone was very nice and encouraging! I wore my ski gloves and bike helmet this time, and spent the first circuit hanging onto the wall all the way around, before getting gradually more confident; by the end of our 40 minutes (a steal at $9 including skate rentals), I could make it almost all the way along one long edge of the arena without grabbing hold or falling over. I was still very wobbly and attracted various scornful / pitying looks from the hordes of small children flying backwards around the arena doing leaps and twirls, and my feet and ankles were in agony, but it was a blast!
We went out for beer and snacks afterwards and as we were sharing some poutine, someone said “well, you’re properly Canadian now”. However, I’m not sure that this was actually the most Canadian thing I’ve ever done – there are other candidates.
So here’s a poll:
What’s the most Canadian thing Cath has ever done?